GAME NOTES: Both the UC Riverside Highlanders and UC Davis Aggies are looking to pull out of tailspin seasons as they clash in a Big West Conference showdown at The Pavilion.
UC Riverside has lost three games in a row and five of its last six contests. The Highlanders are off to an 0-2 start in Big West Conference play. The Highlanders are coming off a 72-52 rout at the hands of UC Irvine on Saturday. UC Riverside is 5-11 on the season overall.
UC Davis hasn't had much better luck this season. The 5-12 Aggies have only lost two in a row, but went on a seven-game losing skid earlier this season and have only won two games since then. Their most recent contest, a 99-74 loss to Long Beach State, set the Aggies back to 0-2 in the conference as well.
Riverside leads the all-time series between the two programs, 29-28, in a long-time California rivalry. The two squads will meet again on March 6 in the second-to-last game of the season.
UC Riverside was simply overpowered by a strong defensive effort from UC Irvine in the Highlanders' loss Saturday. The Highlanders shot just 29.6 percent from the floor, including 1-of-12 from 3-point distance. Chris Patton came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, adding four rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Sam Finley contributed 13 points while Taylor Johns netted 10 and grabbed a team-best 11 rebounds for the double- double. Irvine went into the half with a commanding 35-23 lead.
Johns has paced the way for Riverside this season in terms of scoring, netting a team-best 12.8 ppg, followed closely by Patton's 12.6 ppg. Johns has been a beast on the boards, grabbing 8.6 rpg and blocking a team-high 33 shots this season. Patton complements Johns well with 6.6 rpg and 13 blocked shots. Johns is shooting a solid 54.4 percent from the floor in 31 minutes per contest.
UC Davis had a handle on things against Long Beach State headed into the halftime break, but a 30-0 run at the start of the second frame put Long Beach State ahead for good in the drubbing of the Aggies. Ryan Sypkens led his team with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range. Corey Hawkins netted 19 points and recorded three steals as the only other UC Davis player in double figures. The Aggies shot 45.3 percent from the floor, but allowed the 49ers to hit 55.9 percent of their shots in the game.
Hawkins leads the team this season in scoring with an impressive 17.8 ppg mark to go along with a team-lead tying 24 steals. Sypkens averages 12 ppg and hasn't missed a free throw yet this year, going a perfect 10-of-10 from the line. Darius Graham has dished out a team-best 69 assists this season to go along with his 8.0 ppg average. The Aggies are scoring 72.8 ppg on 44.9 percent shooting from the field.
Both of these teams could use a win in this contest to jumpstart some type of run. With the home advantage, UC Davis has the upper hand. It'll come down to which team plays better on defense.
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